Why does ATF Form 4473 ask for race and ethnicity?

The purpose for requiring prospective purchasers of firearms to identify their racial and ethnic background is to aid law enforcement in accurately tracing firearms found in crimes and better enable Federal firearms licensees to identify the purchaser during the background check portion of a firearms transaction. To collect this identifying information, ATF was required to follow the race and ethnicity standards and format for administrative forms and records established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These standards were first published by OMB in the Federal Register on October 30, 1997, and became effective on January 1, 2003.

[62 Fed. Reg. 58782 (October 30, 1997)]
Last Reviewed June 20, 2018